Digital transformation has re-contoured the way people perceive things and do business. Today, we simply pick up our smartphone for accomplishing a variety of tasks – searching answers for any query, buying a product, booking a cab, planning a holiday, transferring money to someone, or listening to music. But, what about education? Do we witness notable changes in the learning process at schools and universities? Probably not! There hasn’t been much progress in brick-and-mortar teaching in schools and other educational institutes in the past decade.
Technological advancements penetrated the education sector as well, in the form of online learning, but its adoption rate was quite low. Only when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out did we see the significant influence of Education technology (Ed Tech) across countries. As universities and schools had to shut down due to the lockdowns imposed, the classroom became one of the most rapidly growing markets for new technology. Entrepreneurs took the pandemic scene as a major opportunity to eliminate the unwanted barriers of providing quality education to millions of learners worldwide.
The existing e-learning platforms like Unacademy, BYJUs, Khan Academy, Simplilearn, and Coursera saw an incredible increase in the amount of traffic reaching their websites due to the pandemic. While some of these training providers focused on K-12 education and preparation for various competitive exams, the others emphasized upskilling courses for working professionals and helping them gain in-demand digital skills. They saw an increased demand for instructor-led live classes for various subjects. As far as professionals are concerned, they preferred to take courses like Introduction to project management, Digital marketing fundamentals, Information security basics, Data Science for beginners, and so on.
Online education is basically imparted in two learning modes – self-paced and instructor-led virtual classroom. Self-paced learning involves access to pre-recorded videos that can be followed at a learner’s comfortable pace. Instructor-led training, on the other hand, involves attending a virtual class mentored by a trainer through video conferencing tools in the presence of other students. Lately, we have seen blended learning that combines the best of both online learning and traditional face-to-face classroom training. Usually, the training providers offer a cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS) when they enroll for any course. With an LMS, a learner can access the course material 24/7, track his progress, attempt quizzes, and work on industry projects.
Well, if this information has piqued your interest, you would be surprised to know about some of the recent advancements in the edtech industry. Let’s discuss some of them.
E-Learning to penetrate rural areas
Urban students have easy access to the e-learning platforms as they are comfortable using the learning tools and have good internet connectivity. Their rural peers, however, face issues financially and they have less exposure to the learning tools used these days. So, governments are introducing various schemes so as to bring internet connectivity to the last mile and train the teachers on how to use learning devices to conduct classes. Similar efforts are being made to provide digital textbooks, learning accommodations, educational facilities, and more.
Visuals and animations are quite effective in engaging the audience and helps them learn better. So, gamification in education refers to the introduction of game design elements which may include gamified learning activities, simulation of concepts, receiving incentives on completing study goals, and level advancement badges. All such things make learning more fun and reduce the dropout rate, which is quite common in online courses. Virtual reality and augmented reality technology is also enhancing the interactive learning experience.
The collection of massive amounts of data is helping companies provide a personalized customer experience. The same thing can be applied to education. Every learner is different – they have different needs, strengths, grasping power, interests, and skills. Contrary to the traditional one-size-fits-all approach, the personalized learning model will allow teachers to build individual student relationships and students to work on different skills at different paces. This way, the students would experience differentiated learning outside of the established curriculum.
Using cloud technologies
It is imperative to incorporate cloud computing if governments are planning to make e-learning more accessible. Cloud services can help manage a variety of academic services, be it course material, school management, taking online assessments, tracking student’s progress in real-time, or generating performance reports. One of the major benefits of providing resources over the cloud would be that students can access them anytime, anywhere using their mobiles or laptops and revisit the lectures if they want a better understanding of the subject.
Automation of administrative tasks
Artificial Intelligence or AI offers potential benefits to the education industry as it does with any other sector. Regarding schools, AI can be used to expedite administrative duties for teachers whose considerable time is spent on grading exams, providing responses to students, and assessing homework. Additionally, AI-powered online examination systems can be used to create personalized assessments and help teachers gain useful insights into student performance.
To sum up, the edtech industry has a long way to go. Its adoption is growing significantly since the start of the pandemic and doesn’t seem to reduce even if the schools reopen. The need to go digital has already been realized by the educational institutions, and they will plan to build the necessary infrastructure to accommodate smart learning in the future.